Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings) Walsh miss their deceased grandchild Jackson and are prepared to do anything to bring him back. That includes kidnapping a pregnant woman and joining a satanic church.
Justin Dyck’s “Anything for Jackson” is like a reverse “The Exorcist.” The main characters are not trying to get rid of the devil but to bring him inside their house to resurrect the dead. In order to achieve this, the elderly couple has a plan and a Necronomicon-style book. First, they kidnap and lock up Henry’s pregnant patient, Becker (Konstantina Mantelos), then they use a little black magic and violá. But of course, things aren’t so simple when you mess with Satan, and soon their lives become a nightmare.
The Walshes are wealthy, they live in a beautiful, big house, and Henry is a respected doctor. There shouldn’t be any need to get into dark stuff, but their grief is overwhelming and, as Audrey says, “no one has more time than a grieving family.” As the plot moves along, you learn about their backstory and how hard the loss of their grandchild was for them. They are desperate and ready to do everything at their disposal to make this satanic ritual work.
When horrific demons and apparitions start to pop up around their house, hopelessness sets in. It’s clear that the Walshes will have to face their own actions, and it won’t be pretty for anyone involved.
McCarthy and Richings are excellent in their roles. As veterans actors, they handle the complexity of their characters with dynamism. McCarthy (“Die Hard 2”) has to walk a tightrope between grief and care; she will go to any lengths to get her loved one back but doesn’t want to cause Becker any unnecessary harm. Richings (“Man of Steel”) shows a tender side while keeping a resolute stance to see the plan of his character through. Both are trying to be nice, but their evil deeds overtake their good spirits.
There’s a great collection of frights, most of them derived from tension-filled scenes involving practical effects, shocking deaths and disturbing creatures.The beings and ideas that haunt the house are creative and delightfully scary. We have a gory contortionist with a plastic bag on its head, a hooded demon, a creepy toothless lady and even a simple kid in a ghost sheet whose presence provides an anxiety-ridden sequence.
The big house provides a great landscape for these creatures to play in. There are many doors for them to enter, lots of space to move around and some clean walls ready to get splattered with blood. It’s a very interesting contrast that plays into an idea of wealth and power. Rich people tend to think that they have the right to do and mess with whatever their money allows them to. Satan proves them wrong in this story.
Horror lovers will have a blast with “Anything for Jackson”, a film with twists, haunted house vibes, frightening creatures and a tightly knit story about loss, satanism and wealth.
“Anything for Jackson” will be screened from October 9 to 15 as part of the Nightstream Film Festival. Remember to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more spooky content and festival coverage.
Ricardo is a Mexico City based bilingual writer, digital animation graduate and awards season nerd. He also enjoys pro wrestling, is a Paddington fan and is the founder of the film website “La Estatuilla.”